Monday, July 9, 2007


NMI is an acronym for "Non Maskable Interrupt". For those who programmed Apple Macs back in the day, there was a switch that connected between the vents on the side of a Mac. If a new program stopped responding, you would press the NMI switch to open up the Mac (hex?) debugger. On proprietary hardware I worked on, we mimicked this with a plunger button, giving me the sense of power to "detonate" on the frequent times my code went awry.

Do you have an NMI with your staff? Are you approachable and interruptable? Or do you go into an "infinite loop" when in meetings with your team? You need to make sure your team knows you are interruptable, even mid-sentence, and that you will listen (and not be annoyed!).

As a programmer, I used the NMI switch frequently, I clearly wrote a lot of run-away code. It was easy to press the NMI button, since computers never get offended, but not so easy in the real world. The key is to make being interrupted acceptable, and to have a protocol to deal with it (ie defer till later, take offline, etc).

Remember to have your own NMI switch. Trust me, you are going to want to hear what your team has to say when they interrupt you.

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